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Press Release
September 22, 2010

When Will Reince Priebus Answer Voter Suppression Questions?

RPW Chair Has History of Anti-Voter Efforts; Remains Silent While RPW Mouthpiece Lie About RPW Involvement in Voter Caging Schemes

MADISON, Wis. — Republican Party of Wisconsin Chair Reince Priebus refuses to acknowledge the RPW’s involvement in a possibly-illegal voter suppression plot, despite the RPW’s Chief Counsel’s signature and name on documents related to the plan between RPW, Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin and the leader of the state’s Tea Party groups.

“Reince Priebus is hiding he Republican Party of Wisconsin’s involvement in this voter caging scheme,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “It’s not the first time Reince Priebus has tried to suppress the vote, and he should be held accountable if improper activity has occurred.”

One Wisconsin Now released on Monday audio recordings, documents and strategy memos it obtained which point to a coordinated plot by the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin and organizations in the so-called Tea Party movement targeting minority voters and college students in a possibly illegal “voter caging” effort for voter suppression.

Documents emailed by Tea Party head Tim Dake one week ago included a non-disclosure agreement for participants in the program signed by RPW Chief Counsel and Finance Director Jon Waclawski, as well as an affidavit from the RPW requiring the signer to state they are “in no way ‘officially’ employed by the Republican Party of Wisconsin.” All of the documents and recordings are available at www.SaveWisconsinsVote2010.org.

Priebus has refused media requests for comment. The statements offered by RPW Executive Director Mark Jefferson contradict each other. Priebus owes Wisconsin a full and complete explanation of how much it is coordinating with these groups to suppress the vote. RPW statements:

Mark Jefferson with the Republican Party of Wisconsin likewise said there’s nothing to the allegations, although RPW is willing to work with any group to prevent voter fraud. [WRN, 9/21/10]

The state Republican Party said it doesn’t have any ongoing efforts involving the tea party groups, but it said it hopes to do some routine Election Day poll watching to ensure clean elections. [WISC, 9/21/10]

Mark Jefferson said Priebus had had only general discussions with Dake about the issue of voter fraud and that the GOP had never actually went ahead with any of the plans Dake had outlined in the recording. “We had discussion with everyone about this, but as far as sending out letters like this, I haven’t had any discussions like that,” Jefferson said. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/21/10]

Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state Republican Party, said the GOP had never gone ahead with any of the mailing plans Dake described in the recording. [Wisconsin State Journal, 9/20/10]

Additional documents show and Dake and AFP head Mark Block admitted that mailings have gone out. One Wisconsin Now detailed yesterday that the first targets of those mailings appeared to be focused on university students in Milwaukee County.

Preibus and the RPW have had a history of voter caging targeting minority and student voters, including:

  • “The Wisconsin Republican Party announced the Saturday before the 2004 election plans to challenge 37,180 voters on a caging list developed by the party. The Wisconsin GOP targeted for caging only voters in Milwaukee, which is approximately 40% black and 55% minority (black and Hispanic), according to Census data. Voters in all other parts of the state, which is 91% white, were not caged.” [Campaign Legal Center, 7/23/07]
  • The Wisconsin Elections Board had to issue new guidelines for vote challenges after the Preibus-led RPW targeted the only three Milwaukee wards for voter challenges in a State Senate race that had covered much of Waukesha County. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/18/02]

One Wisconsin Now has made a formal request for investigation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Election Integrity Task Force and the Government Accountability Board, demanding a full investigation to ensure the right to vote is not stolen by these plans.

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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